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Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Genesis of “Anger for You/Anger for Me: A Story of Codependency” – Essay and Poem

The Stress Doc traces the frustrating-thrustrating path culminating in a startling, "powerfully emotive," poem on relationship dependency-evolving towards recovery journey.


The Genesis of “Anger for You/Anger for Me:  A Story of Codependency” – Essay and Poem

It started out as a frustrating week.  Let me elaborate.  As I explained in the accompanying essay, “When One Becomes the Powers of Two:  The Art of Becoming Your Own Creative Partner,” my last poem, “The Gift of Writing,” emerged through dialogue with a previous work.  It was as if there was a confrontation between my past and present word artist selves.  Discontent motivated extracting the gems in a two-year-old “Resiliency Rap.”  Tension, extractions, and new poetic play morphed a very different and, IMHO, a more compelling poetic structure.  Here’s the link:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/when-one-becomes-powers-two-art-writing-returning-rewriting-gorkin

In the past month or so, on three different occasions I had successfully achieved poetic confrontation-transformation …Why not one more?  Alas, I wasn’t coming up with a meaningfully different format; the change seemed superficial.  I had gone to the well one time too many.

Actually, as it turned out, it was a “thrustrating” week.  Thrustration, a term coined by psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Rabkin, occurs when you are feeling stuck between thrusting ahead with direct action and frustration; you cannot quite put the creative/problem-solving puzzle pieces together.  However, if you can stay with this creative angst, the tension just might become a magnet, attracting other emotionally charged ideas or issues.

Feeling stuck, no poetic inspiration on the horizon, I diverted myself by taking notes on an amazing book, Van Gogh:  The Complete Paintings.  When I feel creatively fallow, not unlike the aforementioned artistic icon, my mood can turn a darker shade of blue.  The voice in my head:  “You are only as good as your next artistic outpouring.”  And the horizon seemed ominous.

Another voice also emerged in this dark blue haze.  This one was beginning to be fueled by some lingering anger towards my ex.  I can still gnaw on feelings regarding how our breakup went down.  Between voices, there’s not necessarily a logical connection…more psycho-logical!  Fortunately, the last two years of support group “Step” work came to the rescue.  Instead of itemizing what she did – directly or indirectly – to me…I focused more on what I had done to myself – whether by defects of commission or omission.  And with this revamped mindset, two compelling lines, posed as an interdependent (codependent may be more apt) question, all of nine words, materialized:

Is my anger for you
Really anger for me?

And I quickly realized that these lines, this psycho-existential question, was the basis of a new poem.  It would prove to be an outpouring that would reexamine our relationship using a more honest and humble lens.  More specifically, an introspective 12-step lens that revealed a series of key questions as self-reflective, therapeutic tools. At some point, an insight emerged:  the whole poem would revolve around this rhythmic couplet.  Once seeing this organizing, pivotal structure, i.e., beginning and ending alternative sections with the anger dyad, the song’s narrative fell into place.  In addition, as anger lines began to morph into a rhythmic chorus, plaintively repeated in my head and heart, the next realization:  I was creating my “country codependency” number.  (Please forgive any “cc” redundancy. 😉)

Kidding aside, it really is a pretty poignant and powerful piece.  I even read it at a recent EA (Emotions Anonymous) group meeting.  A number of people requested copies.  Would love to hear your take.  Keep on steppin.  MG

P.S.  Shortly after posting on allpoetry.com, I received this encouraging note:

Wow! Great piece here!

This grabs the reader with both hands and pleads its case. Powerfully emotive and I love the repeated phrases, the poet questioning himself almost fearing the answers ... but the truth need not lie.

Great writing! You need enter this or another in the new poet's contest.

Looking forward to reading more from you...

Bev
site greeter

Inspired me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anger for You/Anger for Me:
A Story of Codependency

Is my anger for you
Really anger for me?
Can a me without you
Still have identity?
Was a drifting soul trapped
In the soft lap of dependency?
Is my anger for you
Really anger for me?

So tight the embrace…
False security.
Closing my eyes
To the wounds still in me.
Was I so lonely
Unable to see?
Small talk, surface life
Numbs recovery.

Is my anger for you
Really anger for me?
Why did I choke on
My integrity?
Was I so desperate
For heart surgery?
Is my anger for you
Really anger for me?

That hungry craving
For intimacy:
The next holy grail
Or more sex fantasy?
When will I learn
What it means just to be
Safe in my own skin
Not giving in to idolatry?

Is my anger for you
Really anger for me?
Why did you run
From honesty?
Too dark night soul blue?
A man lost at sea?
Is my anger for you
Really anger for me?

Should a Wandering Jew
Forsake his artistry?
No longer asking:
“Where’s my place to be?”
Why do I still doubt
That I’m love worthy?
Can it be enough
Just being old me?

No more anger for you
No more anger for me
In new deep growth forest
Kindred spirits round me
Hold up a mirror…
Even I can agree:
In the big picture
You are a small tree.

No more anger for you
No more anger for me
It really is simple
Plain as can be
One day I’ll look back
And laugh till I’m free
No more anger for you
No more anger for me!


© Mark Gorkin  2017
Shrink Rap ™ Productions


Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker -- on stress & burnout, performance-leadership & captivating communication -- as well as recognized authour, and "Psychohumorist" ™.  Mark is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative and is a current Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University at the Daytona, FL headquarters. A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army. Presently Mark does Critical Incident Debriefing for organizational/corporate clients of Business Health Services. The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World. Mark’s award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite"www.stressdoc.com – was called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR). For more info, email: stressdoc@aol.com.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

When One Becomes the "Powers of Two": The Art of Becoming Your Own Creative Partner – Essay & Resiliency Rap

The Stress Doc explores how his new poem/“Resiliency Rap” – “The Gift of Writing” (below) – evolved from, for him, a novel process of dissatisfaction, honesty, discovery, engagement, frustration and, ultimately, synthesis.  The existential question:  at times, is it possible to be your own creative partner?  And if so, what does it take?  Read on.

When One Becomes the Powers of Two:  The Art of Becoming Your Own Creative Partner –  Essay & Resiliency Rap

Joshua Shenk’s thesis in the thought-provoking Powers of Two:  Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), is clear:  innovation is powered by the creative tension between individuals in great dyads who are both very much different and very much alike.  Think John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Shenk’s prototypic example.  Both driven musical geniuses (who lost mothers in their teen years), Lennon tempered McCartney’s tendency for soppy romanticism, while McCartney helped soften Lennon’s angry, hard-edge.  Shenk adds: “The heart of creative connection is the felicitous and complementary combination of the familiar and the strange.  These simultaneous extremes generate the deep rapport and energizing friction that defines a creative pair.”  I particularly like this line from Shenk:  We need similarities to give us ballast and differences to make us move.

Alas, what happens when a creative partner is not on the scene?  Are you consigned to creative impotence, or can you improvise?  (I suppose one analogy at hand is settling for self-stimulating pleasures instead of the real thing.  Hey, sometimes second best isn’t so bad; and, when on auto-pilot, the imagination can run a little wild.) 😉  But seriously, I may have discovered another option.

The Pass in the Impasse

Recently, I have been reviewing poems and “Resiliency Raps” ™ penned two and three years ago.  The motive:  I had begun to sharpen my Seussian voice – tackling deep, often complex themes with accessible language, graspable and memorable images, as well as fast, feisty, and fun rhyme schemes.  And, as suspected, a number of the earlier works, especially the longer pieces, are more abstract and less clear, even to the author’s mind.  (Of course, as I continue to age, I do become a little more demented.)

In the early stages of this operational procedure, it dawns on me: in paradoxical fashion, I am in the arena of creative opposition…between my past and present selves! And Shenk’s dyadic proposition may well apply. For as I’m rethinking the early works, it’s not just a matter of substituting a word, phrase or image, here and there. Not only am I seriously streamlining the longer pieces but, within a story-like format, making more tangible and mythical the imagery and references. Bringing an evolved mindset to the remake, I’m separating the poetic – verbal and visual – wheat from chaff; there are original images and ideas waiting to be utilized anew.

A significantly different structure is also emerging.  For example, in the poem immediately below, there are shorter stanzas broken up by a repeating chorus.  In addition, what was a one-time only opening line – I write; therefore, I am – now becomes an opening variation for each poetic section, e.g., I write; therefore, I am memory.  “Memory” becomes the organizing theme for the short segment.

Danger and Opportunity

The challenge of this surgical procedure is as much egotistical as it is operational:  accepting that my earlier work was significantly flawed.  It wasn’t as wonderful as I previously believed.  To my credit, I was experimenting with new poetic formats.  A memorable poem, like a classic city, isn’t built in a day.  For original production, the courage to take an honest look in the mirror, to recognize the circuitous process, perhaps time wandering in the proverbial desert, the opportunity for noodling and trial and error experimentation which allows, finally, the return to familiar territory with a fresh mindset, ready to seek feedback, if not a partnership, is a growing sign of personal-professional maturity that should not be minimized.

Actually, it’s not unlike the “step” work I’m doing.  Areas in my life that seemed “settled,” are presently being exposed as sources of defect and dysfunction (“d and d”).  But instead of being immobilized by feelings of shame, as I may have in the past, or denying the issues altogether, I’m more challenged to wrestle with d and d, in group meetings as well as alone and with one or two fellow “steppers.”  (There’s that “power of two” theme, again.)  So let’s add two “d”s:  new direction and determination!

And “constructive discontent” is often the starting point for creative problem-solving, whatever the generative or innovative domain.  One might say, doing a fierce and fearless, overall life/moral inventory regarding emotional beliefs, behaviors, and relations (the “12-step” forest) is facilitating this poetic reappraisal and risk-taking (of the “word artist” trees).

Naturally, there is risk tearing down an existing structure; one that I’m defining as outdated, of insufficient quality.  Will I be able to construct a worthy replacement?  An image of buildings inadequately designed to withstand earthquake tremors comes to mind.  And after such a trauma, hopefully you are motivated to rebuild with stronger materials and sounder blueprints.  Perhaps I’m in a period of psychic quaking, as it were.  A courageous second look allows for assessing strengths and gaps.  Now there is opportunity for rejuvenating poetic form and function that is both firmer and more fluid.  Hopefully, your work can sway and withstand natural tremors along with human slings and arrows.  (Ultimately, you, reader, will be the building inspector 😉 .)

Closing

A question comes to mind:  do you have other projects (not necessarily involving poetry or even writing, for that matter), that might warrant a second look?  Are you ready to explore the “Powers of Two,” ideally with a partner?  But if one isn’t on the horizon, can you turn your former self or an old work into a provocative antagonist, perhaps an arena where thesis and antithesis do battle.  It just may be time for new creative synthesis.  To good adventures.  MG

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Gift of Writing

I write; therefore, I am
Hey, Rene, ** this is no scam
It’s in the stars of this Aries ram.
Head in the clouds; mind on the lam
Still head-butting that nightmare exam.

I write; therefore, I am memory
Ghost voices smolder in purgatory
Smoke signal secrets of the family:
That “don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel” litany
May one scratch history from jaws of mystery?

Writing, Writing
The art of inner fighting
Writing, Writing
Are you still deciding?

I write; therefore, I have a brain
Word Legos helps design the sane
Till mind meets wall…there’s no more to gain
But REM sleep drama for all the pain.
Red morning eyes know the Sisyphus ** strain:
It’s in your blood…Up the mountain again!

I write; therefore, I have a role
9-5…just not how I roll.
Why do they scoff?  Some try to cajole…
Don’t make me laugh: “Just set a goal.”
For fiery dreams that still burn a hole
Plug in…compose:  lay bare Shadow Soul.

Writing, Writing
A knack for in-sighting
Writing, Writing
No more closet hiding.

I write; therefore, I am not null
All in my head; perhaps full of bull?
Whatever is said, at least I’m not dull.
Seuss-lite illumes the jet-black tunnel…
Rising from ashes – a Phoenix role model:
A keyboard with wings – new mythic seagull.

I write; therefore, I have an image
Is it true vision or just a mirage?
Trapped in a maze or safe passage for rage?
But one way to know…leap to the stage!
Who knows where you’ll go on a blank screen or page!

Writing, Writing
When spirit starts igniting
Writing, Writing
No more simply gliding.

Writing, Writing
Like thunder and lightning
Writing, Writing
On Pegasus **…start riding.

**  Rene Descartes (1596–1650), French philosopher, mathematician, and man of science. He concluded that everything was open to doubt except conscious experience and existence as a necessary condition of this: “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am).  In mathematics, he developed the use of coordinates to locate a point in two or three dimensions. The Cartesian coordinate system is named in his honor. (Oxford Dictionaries)

**  In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it come back to hit him, repeating this action for eternity. Through the classical influence on modern culture, tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as Sisyphean.  (Wikipedia)

** Pegasusin Greek mythology, a winged horse that sprang from the blood of the Gorgon Medusa as she was beheaded by the hero Perseus. With Athena’s (or Poseidon’s) help, another Greek hero, Bellerophon, captured Pegasus and rode him first in his fight with the Chimera and later while he was taking vengeance on Stheneboea (Anteia), who had falsely accused Bellerophon. Subsequently Bellerophon attempted to fly with Pegasus to heaven but was unseated and killed or, by some accounts, lamed. The winged horse became a constellation and the servant of Zeus. The spring Hippocrene on Mount Helicon was believed to have been created when the hoof of Pegasus struck a rock.

In late antiquity, Pegasus’s soaring flight was interpreted as an allegory of the soul’s immortality; in modern times, it has been regarded as a symbol of poetic inspiration.  (Encyclopedia Britannica).


© Mark Gorkin  2017
Shrink Rap ™ Productions


Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker -- on stress & burnout, performance-leadership and captivating communication -- as well as recognized authour, and "Psychohumorist" ™.  Mark is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative and is a current Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University at the Daytona, FL headquarters. A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army. Presently Mark does Critical Incident Debriefing for organizational/corporate clients of Business Health Services. The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World. Mark’s award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite"www.stressdoc.com – was called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR). For more info, email: stressdoc@aol.com.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Courageous Resilience & Creative Risk-Taking (CR2): The Art of Designing Disorder

The Stress Doc reflects on his Five Stage Courageous Resilience and Creative Risk-Taking Path with both a “Resiliency Rap” and essay.  The stages are:
 
1.  First an Agenda…Then into the Arena
2.  Aware-ily Jump in Over Your Head
3.  Strive to Survive the High Dive
4.  Thrive On "Thrustration"…Incubate to Illuminate
5.  Design for Escape, Error, Evaluation…and Creative Collaboration

Enjoy!  MG

Courageous Resilience & Creative Risk-Taking (CR2):
The Art of Designing Disorder

In the 1980s, my “Creative Risk-Taking” path certainly epitomized the paradoxical mantra of the head of a New Orleans law firm:  Strive High and Embrace Failure.  (Examples being trying to turn a mystical Mandala moment into a doctoral dissertation and fairly soon after dropping out of my doctoral program – “when academic flashdancing whirled to a burnout tango” – breaking into Cable Television, with no prior industry experience.)  Though at that tender age in my existential journey, it was less embrace and more “hold on for dear life.”  I was striving and failing yet living and learning at the creative edge.  (In fact, one thing I gleaned from my Cox Cable Chaos:  The only thing more dangerous than taking a big risk or not taking any risk…is taking a risk while minimizing the precarious reality of the situation.  See below essay, “Creative Risk-Taking:  The Art of Designing Disorder.”  It is an upgrade of an essay originally penned shortly after my two season TV run ended.)

And immediately below is a “Resiliency Rap” that reflects an almost four-decade journey whose primary goal has been to develop “courageous resilience and creative risk-taking” (CR2) muscles.  Actually, I’ve jumped into another learning curve encounter.  I’ve been reviewing some of my raps and rhymes with the goal of turning them into less abstract and more accessible offerings.  It becomes a dialogue with an earlier version of your own self.  But this time I’m conscious of wanting to further explore and develop my “Dr. Seuss of Stress for Adults (and kids of all ages)” voice.  So, the goal is pairing catchy rhythm with accessible language, bringing to the screen thought-provoking ideas and emotionally compelling images.  Would love to hear your thoughts on whether for you it works or not.  To more good adventures.  MG
~~~~~~~~~~~

Courageous Resilience & Creative Risk-Taking (CR2):
The Art of Designing Disorder

Preamble Trio:
1) The New “R and R”
2) Hide or Seek
3) Failing…Flying

The New “R and R”
Resilience and Risk
The new “R and R”
Where effort and pluck
With guidance and luck
Help you stretch and stick
Even when feeling stuck.
In this life to go far
Forsake the shooting star.
Never, ever pass the buck…
Better slog through the muck! 
-------------

Hide or Seek
You’ve been tossed aside
And question your berth
From reaping and sowing
Which way’s the wind blowing?
Will you choose to hide
In a mask of false pride?
Or still walk this earth
With the tide ebb and flowing?
All the time knowing
Not a clue where you’re going…
Sure, find a guide
But there’s still no free ride
For only you can decide
To fight for self-worth!
-------------

Failing…Flying
Is failing shameful?
Or a chance to learn
The purpose of painful
Life and living
To be forgiving
Perhaps even playful
If not successful, then
A point where you turn
To a shoulder graceful
A hug for the vulnerable
Opens Yin/Yang mindful
So “Right-Wrong” perceiving
Last gasp “achieving”
Just more self-deceiving.
Push back on the rabble
Release your time table
Till mythical flow grieving
Seeds magical conceiving:
Look, up in the sky…a Phoenix is believing!
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Five Stages of the New "R and R" – Resilience and Risk-Taking

The first thought reading "risk-taking":
Getting married or bungee jumping?
Or cold sweats from public speaking?
(Is there a Xanax for the asking?)
Add "creative" to the edgy border:
It's "The Art of Designing Disorder!"

Sure, spend time on mission and goal
But the biggest fear:  losing control.
Before you leap without a net…
Build up your "T 'n T" asset:
Bring a "Tough 'n Tender" mindset!

Risk-taking, Risk-taking
Why are my legs still shaking?
Creative Risk-Taking
Will this be my unmasking?

1.  First an Agenda…Then into the Arena

Why must dark clouds of discontent
Electrify a mind hell bent
Before brain bolt is heaven sent?
One never breaks out of a rut
With "b.s." (be safe) chorus of, "Yes, but."

Climb upon a pregnant stage
Can one give birth at any age?
Let "why not?" be the dawn outrage.
Is it time:  the hero's journey?
To be contrary…now that's scary!

Risk-taking, Risk-taking
What will you be forsaking?
Creative Risk-Taking
Bring on the crazy-making?

2.  Aware-ily Jump in Over Your Head

Take the plunge; eyes wild and wide
Set book knowledge to the side
For Wonderland's dopamine ride.
Are you in flight or stage fright freezing?
It's passion-play…deep breaths, keep breathing.

Crisis mode; now high alarm
Go ahead, just take my arm
(Unless you have a lucky charm?)
Still, better do an inventory
Own your defects; no need for sorry.

Risk-taking, Risk-taking
Is your false pride a-quaking?
Creative Risk-Taking
Don't get tied to burnout staking.

3.  Strive to Survive the High Dive

Time to face your "Intimate FOE":
Fear of Exposure, oh no, oh no!
The Big Q:  Shall I stay or shall I go?
To "b.s." or not to "b.s."?
“No Pain…No Gain” for real success.

The formula to grow stronger:
Not black or white, “I’m right, you’re wronger”
But, Strive High…Embrace Failure!
Repetition with reflection…
Still, when soaring sans direction
Beware Icarus ** perspiration!

Risk-taking, Risk-taking
Is it a vision speaking?
Creative Risk-Taking
Or hallucination needing tweaking?

**  Icarus - in Greek mythology, son of Daedalus who, employing his father’s invention – wings of feather and wax – lost his life daring to fly too near the sun

4.  Thrive On "Thrustration"…Incubate to Illuminate

When ideas just won't unite
Your fishing line can't get a bite
Let conscious mind drift out of sight.
Volcanic dreams spark lava light.
Perhaps it’s finally time to huddle
Cold concepts too need chance to cuddle.

Forget willpower resolution
When torn between thrust and frustration
Try an incubation vacation:
Some subterranean obsession
For that newly hatched creation.
Let go to flow into your Zen
Up there…”Aha”:  rainbow horizon!

Risk-taking, Risk-taking
Surprise stops brain juice slaking.
Creative Risk-Taking
Now you’re the news that’s breaking!

5.  Design for Escape, Error, Evaluation…and Creative Collaboration

You unearthed the link; crawled through the cave
Survived the dark heart craze and crave.
It’s time to think outside the maze
To set some hollowed truths ablaze.
Now find a kindred-vexing view…one who
Makes the “strange familiar,” the opposite, too.
Like Lennon-McCartney and the Powers of Two. **
Still never forget:  To thine own self be true!

** Joshua Shenk, Powers of Two:  Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014

Through trial, error, and appraisal
Endless duels of angel and devil
Let you mine those sacred symbols.
Mystic silence…out of body travel
Now reveals the archetypal
Mandala ** vision of the soul
Spirit voice from a black hole
Are we ready?   Let's Rock and Roll!

**  Mandala - Sanskrit for "magic circle"; a meditative tool/artistic structure often revealing: a) a geometric – concentric and symmetric – patterning with a focal or centering point, b) a North-South, East-West axis, and c) an image of synthesis, signifying a higher or sacred “Self.”  Akin to an India rug pattern or the unfolding petals of a flower, for the pioneering psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, the Mandala was a cross-cultural symbol or archetype of the collective unconscious depicting psychological wholeness or his concept of "individuation," that is, psychic – persona and shadow, conscious and unconscious – integration.  Email stressdoc@aol.com for more information.

Closing

On this "Resilience and "Risk” voyage
An ongoing “Word Artist” passage
Often with a mercurial message:
Not "means to an end" nor a quest "one and done"…
Not when nightmare daze blocked a child’s sun…
Still, battles once lost may now be rerun
And the memory web can be respun
As the wheel of choice for “R and R” madhouse fun.
Oh, will you resist that old urge to run?


© Mark Gorkin  2015/17
Shrink Rap ™ Productions